eLearning does not require extensive IT knowledge. Making the most of your investment in training can require support.
Training is a costly investment for any business requiring investment to get exactly what you need. Decision makers must buy-in to training for it to be effective.
eLearning can offer you a global solution however it requires some skills and knowledge to capitalise on its development and deployment.
- The Business Process
- The Stakeholders
This article offers some suggestions to maximise your investments.
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Training within business
The English Lawyer and Philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon, in 1597, said “Knowledge is power” as a result in over 400 years, not much has changed.
Training is an essential part of any business. At the same time training is the bane of many businesses’ existence such that is often seen as a waste of money. Training decisions are a challenge to business owners.
Irish law requires businesses to make sure that staff receive basic training when they are employed.
General business challenges
As legislation changes, demands on the business change, as a result training and re-training become a major costly concern for businesses.
Smaller businesses often have the risk of one key person holding knowledge in their head therefore potentially a business ending risk.
- So how do you go about managing training?
- How do you plan the learning process for your business?
- What options are available to you?
- How can you deliver training cost effectively without compromising quality, time and relevance?
There are answers for you to help maximise your investment however you may need some support. eLearning offers a major option but it needs consideration as part of your training mix and not the entire solution.
Formal Education in Ireland
In Ireland, the Department of Education previously oversaw the FETAC and HETAC award programs.
Further / Higher Education, Training and Awards Council.
Universities, Institutes and Colleges deliver programs to meet the standards set by the QQI.
“Skillnets”, offer recognised courses that are industry specific. These recognised courses require formal oversight hence are supported by universities, institutes and colleges.
Industry organisations which comply with the QQI standards have also developed programs. Organisations such as the CCMA have their own skillnets
Government agencies such as FÁS, provide lower level training courses.
Large businesses offer their own certifications on their own products. Microsoft and Cisco are widely known industry to offer formal training on their own products.
There are a lot of training companies who offer training without formal qualification. In my opinion, the biggest value of training is its recognition which becomes an asset. These courses lack this recognition therefore should be considered very carefully. The term I use is disposable training.
A “Learning Objective” is the term used to describe what has to be learnt.
Examples of Learning Objectives (LOs) for business are:
- Manual Handling
- Health and Safety in the Office workplace
- Our order fulfilment process
A subject in university will have clearly defined LOs.
The common questions
Question. Can training costs can be reduced?
Yes, use eLearning. Initial costs may be higher but long term ROI (return on investment) is far higher.
Question. Can entire courses be made available through eLearning?
In short yes it can. eLearning allows people focus on the content rather than the technology that delivers it!
Question. Can eLearning content be bought online?
They can and are through places like
The challenge is getting ones that are right for your business needs, at a standard high enough.
The Business Process
The decision makers
The key decision makers for training are:
- Budget controller
- Content developer / instructional designer
The Business Process
The business process of training follows a general pattern.
Outsourced or kept in-house
A standard is defined as “something used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations.”
Outsourcing may not be an option for all of your training.
Some training can be generic such as “Manual Handling”, finding an outsource provider is generally possible.
Your training material may be confidential to your business for the reason that it might be your intellectual property as a result you will have to train in house.
Depending on the size of the business, number of people doing the training and where the training facilities are, outsourcing may prove too costly to work for you.
The development of material follows three general steps.
- Select the material required.
- Choose the most appropriate ways for students to learn the material.
- Choose the delivery mechanisms ( teacher led, video, interactive material )
Successful delivery of the training material depends on numerous factors, one of which is the medium used to deliver the training.
You can watch videos anywhere these days, even on public transport whereas classroom based approaches require a room and dedicated availability of resources.
The manager ensures the training was successful by checking that material has been assimilated. The review process might be a test, an exam or a review of performance / safety figures over a period. If you don’t achieve your desired results then more training is generally required.
When a process change occurs again, more training is required which often results in frustration for everyone.
The shortest route
Sometimes it is easier to just to hand off the problem, especially if you can afford to make it go away. For a business owner the easiest solution sometimes can be
- Find a training course
- Pay the money
- Send the employee
As soon as that choice is made there are further considerations due to:
- Lack of availability of the employee
- Inconvenience of the employees attending the training
Irish Law ensures that the employers provide minimum support and need to provide basic training when an employee starts.
Getting in help
Specialised roles require specific training to be devised by the content developers
The two options generally available are :
- outsource development of the training
- develop the training material in-house.
There are amazing consultants available. These consultants will work with your in-house teams.
Most people are quite familiar with the general concepts of school and formal education. Not everyone wants to go back to school.
You can leverage technology to support and improve the process of training in each stage.
Addressing the stakeholders needs
There are many challenges with each element of the training as each area involves so many disciplines.
It is difficult to depend on one person to deliver good answers for every role.
Each role in delivering successful training in an organisation is dependent on the other roles delivering and participating. Successful training is a team effort. Decisions by each role have effect on all the other roles for the reason that each role has to act in the best interest of the business rather their own personal interests.
So what must you address in each role in order to deliver effective eLearning?
The manager decides what skill sets are required from the training.
“Is training required?” starts the entire process. For the manager, an understanding of the challenges and the students is vital.
You need to be objective as a manager.
Questions to ask
- What tasks must the student be able to accomplish?
- When to start training?
- What sort of training?
The person responsible for financing.
The budget controller is vital to the process. They are responsible for saving money which means difficult choices, which can result in people seeing their role in a poor way. When chosen, making the most use out of everything spent is the natural follow up.
The budget controller does not often have understanding of the content therefore the successful delivery of the training is heavily reliant on the opinions of the manager and the content developer.
Management will see the budget as wasteful if it is too generous yet too tight with a budget and ultimately the entire business will suffer.
Questions to ask
- So how does a budget controller set the budget?
- Is the training value for money?
- Are there more cost effective options?
- How when budgets are tight or the economy is down-turning can training be justified?
Content developer / instructional designer
The person who builds the content for delivery.
The content developer / instructional designer must have a wide range of skills. The designer usually starts with some form of graphic and multimedia design. Maybe you are very fortunate and your design team have an understanding of the psychology of learning along with a broad knowledge of the various approaches to training. (Instructional design)
The last piece of the puzzle is to have content expertise which usually requires experts in the area to provide.
This area is vast. It can be difficult to find a single person who is expert in each of these skills. You will often find two or three of these skills in an individual.
Questions to ask
- What is the best approach to the learning?
- What technology can the business leverage?
- Are there newer, better approaches?
- Could someone else develop this content better than I could?
- Complexity, duration, prerequisite knowledge, medium are key questions of the content developer.
The Teacher / eLearning manager
The course content is delivered using in-person delivery and electronic delivery.
The teacher is facing an ever challenged role from technology and because with the availability of more advanced forms of communication, the concept of the classroom is facing massive change.
There are technical challenges to the physical teacher
- Virtual classrooms
- Online conferences
- Video and recorded materials
As a result, being objective is a key challenge as quite often the teacher is the content developer as well, which can lead to conflicts of interest.
Questions to ask
- Do students absorb this material better if it is delivered by someone else?
- Can technology be more effective in delivering this material?
- What balance of technology and person is best for the delivery of this material?
The person receiving the training.
What motivates your student? Are they willing to communicate? Above all getting the student to ask questions in a professional setting if they don’t understand is difficult.
Similarly, those who didn’t like school may find it difficult to go back to school like environments.
Consequently a manager with a student needs to consider:
- Previous experience
- Level of understanding
- Ways of learning
- Personal motivation
- Speed of learning
- Other training / life experience
Questions to ask
- Is the student willing?
- Is the student available?
- Does the student want to learn this material?